PRINT March 1972

Larry Poons’ New Paintings

IN MY ESSAY “ART AND OBJECTHOOD” published in this magazine more than four years ago I argued that the present success and future survival of the modernist arts have come to depend above all on their ability to overcome the theatrical; and that in the case of painting this means the ability of individual works to suspend or defeat their own objecthood—to establish their identity as paintings in opposition to, or over and above, their nature as objects. Throughout the early and mid-1960s the struggle against theatricality and objecthood was fought out chiefly through the medium of shape. But starting in the late ’60s, and guided principally by the work of Jules Olitski, there has been a shift of pressure away from issues of shape towards issues of picture-surface. I view that shift as a further stage of the same struggle. For some time now it has seemed that probably the fundamental difference

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